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Maryland senators decry confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett

Democratic Maryland Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen criticized the late-Monday Supreme Court confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett, who was approved for the bench by a divided Senate less than a week before the presidential election.

Van Hollen called the nomination a “bleak day” and Cardin said he was “gravely concerned" about the 48-year-old’s “rushed" that will likely lead to a conservative court majority for years to come.

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“This day will long be remembered as the moment when Republicans tore up their own rules to ignore the will of the American people and pack the Supreme Court with right-wing ideologues who will compromise Americans' rights and civil liberties,” Van Hollen said in a Monday night news release.

Senate Democrats, including Van Hollen and Cardin, argued for weeks that Barrett’s appointment was rushed and that it should be up to the winner of the Nov. 3 election to name the nominee. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, refused to allow the Senate to consider then-President Barack Obama’s choice in March 2016 to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia, arguing the same sentiment.

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The vote to appoint Barrett as the court’s newest justice was 52-48. Van Hollen and Cardin voted no.

The two also opposed Barrett’s appointment to the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2017. She was confirmed on a 55-43 Senate vote.

No other Supreme Court justice has been confirmed on a recorded vote with no support from the minority party in at least 150 years, according to information provided by the Senate Historical Office.

Van Hollen and Cardin said they worry about Barrett’s record and the impact it could leave on Americans, notably women’s reproductive rights and the Affordable Care Act, known as “Obamacare.” Supreme Court arguments in the case are scheduled for Nov. 10.

“With Judge Barrett’s confirmation, the risks become real for 133 million Americans with preexisting conditions, who could be once again be denied health insurance coverage or face high out-of-pocket costs for essential health services and medical treatments," Cardin said in an evening news release. "Those struck by COVID-19 would be added to that list.”

Barrett was appointed by Trump eight days after Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died Sept. 18 of complications from cancer. The late justice said it was her dying wish that her replacement would be appointed after the election.

Cardin called the move to disregard Ginsburg’s wish a “tragic disservice" and said it would undercut everything the justice fought for throughout her career.

“Never in modern times has the Senate taken up a Supreme Court nomination so close to an election, and never has a justice been confirmed after at least 60 million Americans have already cast their votes for the next president,” Cardin said.

Van Hollen referred to the nomination as a “gross abuse of power” but said he believes Marylanders — and Americans — “will not be fooled and will not forget how Republicans ignored their pressing needs during the pandemic.”

“I’ve found hope as I’ve seen so many Marylanders speak up and speak out. We cannot stop now," Van Hollen said. "Together, we must keep working to secure equal justice, equal rights, and equal opportunity for all. This is not over.”

The Associated Press and Baltimore Sun reporter Jeff Barker contributed to this article.

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